In its influential annual ranking
has named Caroline Guenther '03 one of its "30 Under 30" young professionals for 2017 in the Manufacturing and Industry field.
As an Integrated Business Planning Manager with Cisco Systems
, Guenther manages Cisco product families that amount to a total of about $2 billion in value. She's also worked to improve forecast accuracy, which has enabled the company to save millions in supply chain costs.
According to Forbes author Joann Muller, "Even within established industrial companies, it’s difficult for even the sharpest newcomers to make their mark at an early age. But the intrepid engineers and entrepreneurs on Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Manufacturing and Industry have found a way to stand out above the rest, whether by designing new processes, developing new materials or inventing new technologies that help America make things and get stuff done."
Muller adds, "At big global companies, the toughest challenge can be finding efficiencies while managing complex supply chains, far-flung factories and diverse workforces. Two talented women on our list—including Guenther—have proven they can master those tough assignments and more."
Prior to taking the role at Cisco, Guenther obtained her MBA at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, and worked with several start-ups. Earlier in her career, she served as a summer intern at the China Desk of the U.S. Department of State.
Guenther, who now lives in San Francisco, attended the University of St. Andrews in Scotland for her Bachelor's and Master's degrees, double majoring in International Relations and Arabic with an emphasis on counter-terrorism. She also became fluent in Mandarin Chinese. As a four-year high school student at St. George's in Rhode Island, she was the first student to study abroad in a foreign country, spending her junior year in Beijing, China.
In the 2010 Shore Bulletin, Guenther wrote about another of her international experiences, working in Pakistan with the Central Asia Institute (CAI), whose mission is bringing schools to rural Pakistan and Afghanistan:
"I was able to visit seven of the schools that the CAI had built in the mountainous area of Baltistan and deliver much needed school supplies on behalf of CAI. My visit to Pakistan gave me a first hand view of the impact of the CAI's work and its influence on students' lives in the most remote areas of the country.Looking back, says Guenther, "I came away from this experience more grateful than ever for all of the wonderful educational opportunities that I have had in my own life, beginning with my years at Shore Country Day School. From learning about letters and writing with Mrs. Parkhurst, to performing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in third grade with Mr. Hamlin, to becoming a better writer in Mrs. Harder's eighth grade English class, I was consistently challenged and encouraged to be my best."
"In one of the villages, I learned that I was the first Western female ever to visit, and I was given the honor of laying the cornerstone for a new CAI school there. The villagers were all present for the ceremony, which culminated in my being ushered into the village leader's wooden house, a place where women are generally forbidden, for a feast. The villagers had slaughtered a prized chicken for our dinner, which was especially generous since they seldom can afford such a luxury. Many of the villagers gathered in rooftops to peer into the window of the second floor of the village leader's house for glimpses of us as we ate our meal.
"During my time there, I realized that despite the fact that the villagers and I came from different cultures, we shared common ground regarding the importance of educating children. The villagers' bright eyes and broad smiles spoke volumes and communicated their hope for the future, symbolized by the cornerstone of their new school....
"The Central Asia Institute school's staff members advocate an American counter-terrorism policy based on our country's commitment to education. In a Muslim country where Al-Qaeda has a growing presence ... it is more important than ever for the children of Pakistan to receive a balanced education that helps them avoid becoming recruiting targets for Muslim fundamentalist organizations.
"The fact that some of CAI's schools are for girls is also significant. In conservative Islamic countries, many women are considered second-class citizens, and education is a distant dream for most females. CAI schools have allowed girls from isolated villages the opportunity to attend school, and many of these young women ultimately choose to return to their villages as doctors and nurses committed to lowering the high infant mortality rates."
Since graduating from Shore, Guenther says, she has learned first hand the importance of viewing the world as a place where she can make a difference, especially when it comes to educating children.